2016 Summer Travel Grant Series: Archival Research of Photographs Produced by Dean Conant Worcester


Summer Travel Grant 2016 Recipient

Keiko Fukunishi

EWC Student Affiliate

First of all, I would like to express my gratitude for the assistance of the East-West Center Summer Travel Grant in supporting my archival research. One aspect of my dissertation research considers photographs produced by Dean Conant Worcester, and American zoologist and colonial officer who used a camera for the first time outside of the studio in order to photograph Filipino people at the turn of the century. Thanks to the award, I was able to examine thousands of photos taken by Worcester, and several hundred glass plate negatives related to his photographic projects at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology at the University of Michigan and the Bentley Historical Library.

Many researchers tend to treat colonial photographs as visual proof of American racism and colonial domination, but my archival research helped develop my own argument that photographing Filipinos was not a one-way suppression of power by American colonialists. Rather, it was a process of negotiation and creation between the colonists and the Filipinos. In my research,  I found many pictures in which Filipinos are seen to undercut the design and intent of the colonial photograph.

Numerous photographs from this collection presented similar ideas, creating a strong case for the agency, articulation, and mobility of Filipinos in subverting the colonial intent of figures such as Worcester. In my continuing studies, I would like to further this research in order to develop my dissertation focus on the roles of media at the turn of the century. This research trip has been instrumental in guiding the direction I hope to take for my future research.




The East-West Center Association (EWCA) and the EWCA Hawaii Chapter provided Travel Grants ($500 each) to 10 current East West Center students for the summer of 2016.